VIETNAMESE-ISH CHICKEN

I am very fond of Vietnamese food, and this is my take on grilled chicken thighs inspired by that cuisine. I took a few liberties with classic versions, by using coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, and omitting garlic, which is always present.  Of course, add all the garlic that pleases you, and go for the traditional soy. I find the flavor of coconut aminos a bit more subtle, allowing other herbs and spices to shine more. I also added Sriracha sauce, a product from Thailand which I happen to be addicted to. So there. As I said, it is “inspired” by Vietnamese cuisine, made by a Brazilian-American with gastronomically-daring tendencies.

VIETNAMESE GRILLED CHICKEN THIGHS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons coconut aminos sauce (or soy sauce)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce or other hot sauce of your preference
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
fresh cilantro, for serving

Season the chicken thighs with salt. Make the marinade by whisking all other ingredients (except cilantro) in a bowl.  Add the chicken and mix well to coat. Place in a plastic bag, massage the pieces and place in the fridge for at least one hour, up to overnight.

When ready to cook, remove the pieces from the marinade, and grill the thighs until cooked through, about 7 minutes per side. Serve with fresh cilantro and a sprinkle of fresh lime juice all over the meat.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Not much is needed to turn these juicy grilled chicken thighs into a great meal. Green beans with almonds were a very nice complement, but when it’s really hot I think cucumber raita could be even better. Keep in mind I made this recipe back in March, just taking my usual slow-coach approach to share on the blog.

If you are partial to white meat, use the same marinade for chicken breasts, but pound them very thin, and run them on the stupidly hot grill until cooked through. I find it that it is the best approach for that type of meat. Plus, it’s ready in less than 10 minutes. Cannot beat that. The brown sugar in the marinade ensures those gorgeous grill marks even if the grilling time is kept short.

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ONE YEAR AGO: Rutabagas Anna

TWO YEARS AGO: The Ultimate Raspberry Sorbet

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FOUR YEARS AGO: Pan-grilled Tilapia with Smoked Paprika & Avocado Cream

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SEVEN YEARS AGO: Heavenly Homemade Fromage Blanc

EIGHT YEARS AGOA Perfect Sunday Dinner

 

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PATI JINICH’S FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE PECAN CAKE

I started watching Pati’s show on PBS about a year ago. Not only every recipe I made from her show (and cookbook) worked great, but I became more and more fond of her warm personality, authenticity, down to Earth way. The type of person I would not think twice about inviting over for dinner or sitting down at a cafe to shoot the breeze. Her show is always refreshing and fun. In her travels around Mexico she visits interesting spots and focuses on real people, fishermen, cooks on street stands, farmers, I always learn something new. Come to think of it she is the antithesis of Giada in her current show on FoodTV. I keep losing my enthusiasm for Giada, more and more, due to her excessive focus on Hollywood-style glamour. Hosting a fashion dinner on the rooftop of the Prada store in Firenze, with chamber music playing and wearing a Dolce & Gabbana dress?  The whole time acting all matter-of-fact about it?  It’s a bit much for me…  But, back to Pati. This cake is a cinch to make, tastes wonderful, and is superb with a cup of coffee. Try it, and you will love it.

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE PECAN CAKE
(from Pati Jinich)

1/4 cup  (56 g) unsalted butter plus 1 tablespoon for buttering the pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup  (125 g) pecans
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (200 g) sugar
Pinch of kosher or coarse sea salt
confectioners’ sugar

Heat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper.

Melt the chocolate and the 1/4 cup butter in a microwave at 50% power for a couple of minutes, stirring after one minute. Set aside to cool.

Using a blender, chop the pecans finely. If you have a Vitamix, it will take about 30 seconds, do not let it turn into pecan butter. Add the eggs, vanilla, sugar, salt and melted chocolate mixture, blending until smooth. Pour the batter into the buttered springform pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out moist but not wet, about 40 minutes.

Once it has cooled a little, run the tip of a knife around the pan and release the cake from the pan. Invert onto a plate, and then again, or serve directly onto plates if left on bottom part of springform pan. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This is by far the easiest cake ever to make. Perfect to bake with kids, since it will be ready in minutes with the help of a blender. Pour the batter into the pan, and you are done. It is very moist, the pecans giving it a perfect additional flavor that matches the chocolate quite well. It has of course the added benefit of being gluten-free, so if you bake for someone with gluten sensitivities, it is a must-have in your repertoire.

I took it to our department and it was a huge hit with everyone who arrived early enough on that Monday to enjoy a piece.  Pati says in her show that she’s been making this cake for many years, it is a favorite with her family. Once you baked it, you’ll see why. Simple, no fuss, sweet but not over the top, rich but not too extravagant. My favorite type of dessert.

ONE YEAR AGO: A Tale of Two Macarons

TWO YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

THREE YEARS AGO: Chicken in Green Pipian Sauce, Sous-vide Style

FOUR YEARS AGO: Classic Shrimp Gobernador Tacos

FIVE YEARS AGO: A Walk Towards the Sunset

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  Heavenly Home-made Fromage Blanc

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  A Perfect Sunday Dinner

 

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MIMI’S STICKY CHICKEN, A CALL FROM MY PAST

Paleo-friendly, low-carb & delicious!

Many years ago I used to visit a cooking forum that is long gone. One recipe was a big hit with many of the members: Mimi’s Sticky Chicken. I admit the name is not very sexy, but once you’d read the many stellar reviews, you’d be inclined to disregard the sticky issue and give it a try. Over the years, that exact recipe has been published in websites everywhere, credit not always given to the author. So, without further ado, here you have the original link. I tried to find out Mimi’s whereabouts, but my search skills returned nothing.  As you can see in the link, she created this recipe in the early 80’s, and asked for full credit whenever someone talked about it. It’s only fair.  I used to make it quite often when I was dating Phil and during the early years of our marriage, as the kids absolutely loved it. For some reason, I forgot all about it. It’s been definitely more than a decade since I last had it on our table. But to compensate, I made it twice in the last month. HA!

MIMI’S STICKY CHICKEN
(modified from the original version found here)

2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 whole roasting chicken, about 3 pounds
1 shallot, cut in half
1 lemon, cut in quarters

Combine all spices  in a small bowl. Dry chicken very well, rub the spice mixture over skin and sprinkle a little inside the cavity.  Place in a bag or in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Heat the oven to 250F. It is not a typo. It is a very low oven.  When ready to roast, stuff the cavity of the chicken with the shallots and lemon. Place it breast side down in a roasting pan (I like to use a small rack to keep it elevated, spraying the rack with olive oil to prevent the skin from sticking to it).

Cook for about 5 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 155 F. Baste occasionally after the first two hours, with the liquid that starts to accumulate in the roasting pan.

If you like to crisp up the skin, carve the chicken in pieces and place under the broiler briefly. It will falling apart, so handle it gently.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Amazing how something we loved so much could end up neglected for years. Two things I’d like to bring up: first, if you don’t have time to refrigerate the bird overnight with the spice mixture, don’t worry, just go ahead with it right away. Second, if you are not around to baste the chicken, it won’t be a serious drawback. When ready to serve, baste a little with the roasting liquid, and go for that brief encounter with the broiler. On your first time making this recipe,  it would be nice to check the temperature and see if after 4 hours the meat is already approaching 155F. If it is, don’t leave it all the way to the five-hour mark. Once you get to know how your oven behaves, you can trust the timing a bit more. Make sure to always roast a chicken of similar size.

As I mentioned before, once the meat is cooked, it will be falling apart. Note in the picture below how the bone broke through the skin.


I also like to squeeze the roasted lemon all over the chicken right before serving, and sometimes will grab a fresh one to make sure to get that extra bite of acidity that goes so well with it.


Dinner is served: Mimi’s Sticky Chicken,
Pan-Steamed Broccoli, and Roasted Butternut Squash… 

 

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ONE YEAR AGO: Perfect Soy-Grilled Steak

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FIVE YEARS AGO: Home-made Corn Tortillas

SIX YEARS AGO: Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Peanut Sauce

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EIGHT YEARS AGO: Lemony Asparagus

 

A TRIO OF AIR-FRIED GOODIES

For those who follow my blog for a while, it’s obvious that I love a new gadget. In the kitchen, in the lab, I am always excited to try something new. Then comes the flip side of that coin. The after-taste of guilt after brining a new toy home. “Did I really need that?”  Next, I make solemn promises to never ever fall to temptation again (yeah, right). Lolita, our Philips air-fryer, was no exception, I went through intense mea culpa sessions every time I passed by the laundry room and saw her in all her shiny beauty sitting on the countertop. Ready and waiting. Guilty feelings are not fun, so I fight them with my best weapon: putting Lolita to work as often as possible. You know what? It seems to work. So here I am to share three guilt-removing dishes made in the air-fryer.

GOODIE #1
FRIED MANIOC ROOT, A BRAZILIAN CLASSIC

I’ve published quite a few years ago a full tutorial on how to make “mandioca frita.” You can read it here,  so that you learn how to prepare it. Please, don’t ever try to fry the root without cooking it first.

Once you got your pieces of yucca root cooked, they can sit in the fridge for a few days, or even be frozen. To cook them in the air-fryer, simply coat them with a little olive oil, season with salt, and place in the fryer at 390F for 20 minutes or so.  The time will vary depending on the size of your fries. Watch them as they start to get dark brown, then remove them and salt the pieces before enjoying them.

Just like potato fries and sweet potato fries, there will be a difference in texture, as the fried pieces will not be soaked in oil. That, of course, may turn off some traditionalists, but I find it a brilliant way to reduce the fat content still allowing us to enjoy this delicacy.

GOODIE #2
SWEET POTATO CHIPS

I’ve blogged about sweet potato chips made using the spiralizer. In this simpler version, I cut them by hand and omitted the soaking. The idea was to get them to the table as quickly as possible on a weeknight. I used a mixture of orange and white sweet potatoes, cut them more or less uniformly in 1/4 inch slices, coated them very lightly with salt and into the basket they went. Temperature was set to 390F, which is the highest setting the Philips will go to, and they took about 18 minutes to get brown, shaking the pan every once in a while.  I must say I preferred the batch made with the spiralizer, but if you need to take a simpler, faster route, these are still pretty pretty pretty good (any Curb your Enthusiasm fans out there?).

GOODIE #3
PARSNIP FRIES

These turned out excellent! The only problem with them was the amount. I ended up with a smaller portion than anticipated. It so happened that when I was peeling the parsnips, the largest of all slipped from my hand and fell on the floor. A race took place between Sally and a certain dog that attends by the name of Bogey Quit That. Against all odds, since the cook happened to be closer to the fallen root, BQT won, and thought it was super fun to grab it and run around the house with it, as fast as his powerful legs would allow. There was a bit of profanity involved, some screaming, until he finally dropped the badly mangled veggie on the second floor of our home, near the bed in a guest bedroom. Into the trash it went. Serial killer, folks. As I mentioned many times, I must have been a serial killer in a past life. Eternal karma.

But, back to the recipe. Cut the parsnips as uniformly as possible. Not an easy thing to do, those are creatures shaped in exotic ways. Coat them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and then add one to two teaspoons of cornmeal all over, shake gently. Any cornmeal that doesn’t stick, it’s ok, you just want a very subtle coating. Place them in the basket of the air-fryer, and set it to 360F. Cook for 10 minutes, increase the heat to 390F and cook a few more minutes, shaking the pan every once in a while. As they brown, remove them and adjust seasoning with salt if needed. Due to their shape, some bits will be more cooked than others. No big deal, it’s all good. They have this wonderful sharp taste, like fries that had a date with a lemon. Yeah, that’s about right. Love them.

We really love the air-fryer, and I have no regrets about buying it. It makes portions that are perfect for the two of us, it is not too noisy, it doesn’t smoke, it is super easy to clean, and it doesn’t require a lot of time to reach temperature. Two minutes at most, but I don’t even worry about that. I put everything inside, turn it on and add two minutes to the cooking time to compensate for the heating.

Of the three goodies, I think the parsnips were my favorite. I might try to make them in the spiralizer as chips, just for fun. We enjoyed them with a New Mexico Pork Chile, rice, and avocado slices. Simple, but very tasty dinner. Of course, a little more parsnip fries would have been nice… But life with BQT has its complexities…

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Focaccia with Grapes, Roquefort and Truffled Honey

TWO YEARS AGO: Moroccan Carrot Dip Over Cucumber Slices 

THREE YEARS AGO: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

FOUR YEARS AGO: Cilantro-Jalapeno “Hummus”

FIVE YEARS AGO: A Moving Odyssey

EIGHT YEARS AGO:
 Shrimp Moqueca

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RACK OF LAMB SOUS-VIDE WITH COUSCOUS SALAD

Mid-July, and here I am to share with you a recipe we enjoyed on the first week of January. No particular reason for dragging my feet for so long, it was a memorable dinner, probably the juiciest lamb we’ve had at home. It was prepared sous-vide, but of course you can use any method you are comfortable with. The thing is, rack of lamb is such a special cut, I always get a bit nervous when I have to prepare it. It must be medium-rare, or you’ll have a disaster on your plate. Of course, meat thermometers are there to help us out, but the option of using sous-vide takes the stress completely out of it. I love that. For the same dinner, I made Potatoes Anna, but that is still a work in progress. Read on…

RACK OF LAMB SOUS-VIDE  WITH COUSCOUS SALAD
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from several sources)

for the meat:
1 rack of lamb
1 teaspoon oregano (I used Mexican)
1 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt and pepper
for the salad:
2 cups cooked couscous
1 cucumber, diced
2 large Roma tomatoes, diced
dried mint to taste  (use fresh when available)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
to glaze:
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat the water bath to 130 ° F.

Season the lamb lightly with salt and pepper all over. Mix the oregano, paprika and coriander in a small bowl. Rub the mixture over the meat, place it in a sous-vide type bag and seal it.  Submerge in the heated water-bath and cook for 4 hours.

For the salad, heat the olive oil on a small pan, just to raise its temperature, no need to have it smoking.  Remove from heat, add the dried mint, and let it cool to room temperature. Whisk the lemon juice. Mix the cooked couscous, cucumber, and tomatoes in a bowl. Add the prepared dressing. If using fresh mint, simply add it to the olive oil and lemon juice, no need to warm the oil up. Season with salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasoning.

When the lamb is almost ready to leave the water-bath, make a glaze mixing the honey with lemon juice. Remove the lamb from the bag, brush some of the glaze all over and sear the surface either on a very hot skillet, or on a hot grill. You can also run it under the broiler, watching it carefully.  Slice the lamb in individual ribs, and serve with the cool couscous salad.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was superb! You can double the recipe, cook two racks of lamb and invite a couple of special friends over. But in this particular dinner, it was just the two of us. And three pups absolutely mesmerized by the smell wafting through the kitchen.  Now, to the Potatoes Anna, one of my favorite ways to enjoy potatoes, a bit of an indulgence, of course. Potatoes and butter in proportions to make those two little entities show up, one on each side of your head. The evil one tells you not to worry about a thing, life is short. The other one asks if you noticed how much butter went into that innocent looking platter of food… Tell them both to leave you alone, enjoy the meal and be a bit more austere for a couple of days. There. You’ve got this!

But, I digress. I told you the Potatoes Anna are a work in progress, and you might be wondering why. Here it is…

A bit too brown, I think.  I used the method by America’s Test Kitchen, but I think it calls for too long on top of the stove. Maybe the flame in our stove is stronger than the one they used. That could explain, it’s hard to believe they would have made a mistake. Next time I intend to cut the time a bit shorter or use one of the weaker flames on the back of our Supernova. At any rate, the inside was very creamy, perfectly cooked.

Once I re-visit and optimize this recipe, I will be ready to share with you!

ONE YEAR AGO: Focaccia with Grapes, Roquefort and Truffled Honey

TWO YEARS AGO: Moroccan Carrot Dip over Cucumber Slices

THREE YEARS AGO: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

FOUR YEARS AGO: Cilantro-Jalapeno “Hummus”

FIVE YEARS AGO: A Moving Odyssey

EIGHT YEARS AGO:
 
Shrimp Moqueca

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KALEIDOSCOPIC MACARONS

One more take on my ongoing obsession… But first, a relevant question: how far can we stretch the boundaries of these adorable cookies and still be comfortable calling them macarons? Apparently the boundaries are very blurry. From colors, types of fillings, decorations on top of the shells, we see endless variations. I cannot call myself a purist, as I am often taking liberties with classics, but I think my standards would be: macarons must be prepared with almond flour as the main component.  If other ground nuts are added, let them be a very minor player. Must contain a meringue incorporated with the flour by the macaronage method. Must have discernible feet. Other than those three requirements, I’ll accept anything. Savory fillings, neon-like colors, cute alternative shapes. For this batch, I experimented with a color effect. Some newbie errors took place, but I still performed better than I do at the golf course. Much, much better.

KALEIDOSCOPIC MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, slightly adapted from Craftsy.com

Yield: About 72 shells; 36 assembled macarons

for the shells:
198 g powdered sugar
113 g almond meal
1/8 teaspoon dried lavender
113 g egg whites (I aged mine for three days)
1 g or a pinch of cream of tartar
100 g granulated sugar
Purple Gel color from AmeriColor
2 drops vanilla extract
for the filling:
chocolate ganache with finely chopped hazelnuts
recipe in this post

Line 2 or 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered sugar, almond meal and lavender in a food processor or mini processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 15 seconds. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and pinch of cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on medium speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. The whites should not appear liquid. The foam will be light and should not have any structure.

Slowly rain in the granulated sugar, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to medium-high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme. Add the gel color and the vanilla. Staying at medium-high speed, whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Bet until firm peaks form. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.

Fold in the almond meal mixture in three increments. Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the flat side of a spatula. Scrape the mixture down to the center of the bowl. Repeat two or three times, then check to see if the mixture slides slowly down the side of the bowl. Open a plastic wrap on the counter, paint three lines of gel color of your choice separated by one inch. Pour the dough on top, wrap the plastic around, and insert the whole thing in a piping bag, making sure to have an opening in the wrap connected to the piping tip. Pipe shells on the prepared baking sheets.

Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter. Then fist bump each end of the sheet’s underside twice. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. Ina dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 330 F (170 C/gas mark 3). Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide, then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. The macarons should release without sticking. Check one or two. If they stick, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

Assemble the macarons: find two macarons similar in size and add a good amount of ganache to the bottom of one of them. Place the other on top and squeeze gently to take the filling all the way to the edge.  Ideally, store in the fridge for 24 hours for best texture.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I know it’s hard to believe but I used three different colors for the shells, the green is barely noticeable, only in a few of them. Many of the shells got zero color. Puzzling? Read on, and the mystery will be solved. There are essentially two types of strategies to get more than one color in the macaron shell. You can make the dough, divide it in two (or three) portions, color each one separately, add them to the piping bag and allow them to mix during piping. I decided not to do it, because I was a bit insecure as to when to divide the dough, and maybe deflate it too much when mixing with the colors. I normally add the color very early in the process.  That brings me to method number two, which gives a very interesting marbled effect, when done correctly. You start by opening a plastic wrap over your counter. Then, you paint two or three solid lines of gel color over the plastic. Pour your dough with the optimal lava consistency over the plastic, wrap it around, and insert the whole thing inside a piping bag. See the photo below.

I realize it’s hard to see the lines of gel color on the first picture, but trust me, they are there. To my disappointment, the first 20 or so shells I piped were totally white! The reason is, when painting the lines they must go all the way to the icing tip, otherwise obviously you’ll get no color until the dough moves through and gets in touch with the gel.  Alternatively, you can use a long brush and paint the inside of the piping bag itself, making sure to reach down all the way to the tip. I must re-visit this technique and get the effect I was hoping for. It was quite frustrating to keep piping shell after shell, with no color, and then a little bit here and there. But hopefully practice makes perfect, and I will succeed next time.

As I mentioned before, the parallels between making macarons and golf are truly amazing! Once you take that golf club back, it’s over. For macarons, a little misjudgment and you don’t get what you want. The Macaron Gods are not very forgiving. And I’ve probably been extra naughty lately. You’d think?

Almond flour: $9.99

12 eggs: $3.50

Powdered sugar: $2.50

Matching outfit to macarons: Priceless!

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ONE YEAR AGO: Zucchini Noodles with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

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THREE YEARS AGO: Sous-vide Pork Chops with Roasted Poblano Butter

FOUR YEARS AGO: Roasted Strawberry-Buttermilk Sherbet

FIVE YEARS AGO: Amazing Ribs for the 4th of July!

SIX YEARS AGO: Baby Back Ribs on the 4th of July

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Blueberry Muffins

EIGHT YEARS AGO: A Pie for your 4th of July

 

 

 

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FIRST MONDAY FAVORITE AND THE WINNER OF MY GIVEAWAY!

Here we are on the First Monday of July, and it’s time to share with you my favorite post of last month. Easy as pie. But it’s not pie. It’s cake. How could I not pick the cake that celebrated my 8th blogging anniversary?

for the full post, including my nail-biting hazelnut adventure, click here

AND NOW FOR THE WINNER OF MY TRIPLE GIVEAWAY!  

Numbers were generated, numbers were drawn online…

Twenty-two was the lucky one, and the winner is

KCB!!!

Please drop me an email and let me know if you prefer online or “real” book versions of your gifts…

Contact me at sallybr2008 at gmail dot com

 

Thank you Sid, for organizing the First Monday Favorite!

If you are a food blogger and would like to participate, drop Sid a line.

To see the contributions from my virtual friends, click on the link below

(comments are shutdown for this post)

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